For the numerous dog owners across the country, puppies provide love, loyalty and camaraderie, a daily joy in their lives. For a select group, however, their dog is much more than just a best friend – it gives them the confidence to face the world every day, offers comfort in times of grief or is even a real lifesaver.
Psychologist Peadar Maxwell says dogs are great companions because they are loving and devoted, but owners should not take this for granted. "Anyone who thinks they have a dog must remember that they are alive, feel creatures that deserve a good life, including the costs of veterinary care, physical exercise and loving attention," he says.
"Once that has been agreed, the benefits outweigh the responsibility and the investments." Studies even show that dogs help us with mood regulation, recovery from trauma or disease and even with developing tolerance for allergens. Also, such as the company and the increased degree of social interaction, as well as opportunities to move more. And when we spend time with or take care of our dogs, we produce oxytocin, a good feeling chemical associated with lower blood pressure – but above all, dogs are our friends and companions, and that's good for all of us, whether we're live alone or with others. "
Here we meet three people who have transformed their lives by a special dog …
Ciara & Hope
Although Ciara O & # 39; Malley was not physically rescued by her dog, she was certainly saved in an emotional sense. The Mayo woman got a terrible blow in June last year when her friend, David Gavin, went missing in Canada after getting into trouble while swimming in a lake.
The search was closed for several months due to snow and bad weather conditions, and when it was resumed in April this year, David's body was recovered and returned to Ireland.
While his ten-year-old girl will never get over his death, the gift of a puppy in her grief has helped her endure the worst period of her life.
"After David was missing, it was so completely shocking," says the 28-year-old. "I could not work and went to live with my parents, because I was totally desperate, I went to Canada twice with his family to help with the search, and it was heartrending to come home without any doubt at home, without any doubt. him – both times.
"When I returned to Knock airport after the second attempt to find him, my friend met me and presented me with a small labradoodle puppy.In the beginning I did not know what to do because I did not think I could care for her, but I called her Hope – and as soon as she looked at me, I knew she would be good for me. & # 39;
Ciara says Hope has lived up to her name and she does not think she could handle it as well as it had not been for love and 'intuition & # 39; from her dog.
"When you mourn, you often do not want to see anyone and you can not put into words how you feel, but dogs instinctively know that you are sad and will do what they can to comfort you," says Ciara. "Hope was great from the start – she gave me the hope that we would find David, and that was the case, it was a terribly difficult situation and so sad to bring him home, but knowing that Hope was waiting for me, made it a bit easier.
"The past year there were days when I felt like I could not move for grief.Hope would only look at me and I would urge myself to take a walk with me, and that always gave me a better feeling that people would concentrate on her when we were away instead of me, because sometimes I could not get the attention, so it put me in the spotlight.
"Of course I still mourn for David, but Hope certainly helped me to tackle everything." To be honest, I do not know if I could have done without her. "
Jamie & Coco
Jamie McMahon has changed his life by the arrival of a dog companion. The 11-year-old from Laois had trouble making friends and attended school, and was often lonely and frustrated with life. But at the beginning of the year he became the proud possessor of a pug called Coco and he found a new best friend.
Jamie has autism and ADHD and has spent a lot alone. One of his favorite activities was the computer game Minecraft. Through this game, in which you can choose a series of people and creatures as your avatar, he developed the love for pugs and begged his parents to give him a copy of his own.
Dog lovers, mother Ciara and father Mark (photographed by Jamie) – who are also parents of the 12-year-old Claire, the seven-year-old twins Chloe and Rachel and the five-year-old Ross – had no need for dog lovers. very convincing.
"Jamie has no friends at school, because the other children do not know how to take him, so he always spent a lot of time alone," says Ciara. "He always liked playing Minecraft and became obsessed with jokes, he said he wanted to get a black one himself." We have a lot of dogs at home at home, but Jamie wanted his own pet, so we did some research and found a lady in Clare who said she just had the puppy we were looking for, so we went to her meet her.
"As soon as Jamie and Coco saw each other, they immediately clicked in. It was so beautiful to see and from the first moment they met, Coco follows Jamie everywhere – he has a very loyal best friend."
Coco has not only offered Cocie the friendship he needs, but she also helped him get more out of herself. "Since Coco arrived in our home, she has transformed Jamie's life – she has inspired so much self-confidence in him and also helps him feel calm," says Ciara. "She seems to know when he is frustrated or agitated, and just sits next to him so he can caress her, which has an amazingly soothing influence on him, he has learned empathy, as he sees how she responds to kindness, so he always does his best to be gentle.
"She also taught him social skills while he talks to people about her." Mark taught Jamie how to train Coco, so he learned for hours how to sit and stay and give his feet, now when Jamie meets someone he is delighted to show them the tricks that she can do.
"Last year he participated in the Petmania Puppy of the Year competition and the whole community stood behind him to support him." The second place in the national finals of the competition was really huge, it did not end the good for his confidence.
"I can not say enough about how this little dog has improved my son's life for the better – she's been great."
Bekki & Mia
Bekki Millar of Lisburn, Co Down, credits her Staffordshire Terrier, Mia, with saving her life after a wave of her blood sugar levels, putting her on the edge of a diabetic coma that could be fatal.
"When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with Type diabetes, and it became very unstable about 10 years ago," says Bekki (31). "One day, about three years ago, my blood sugars were dangerously high, I took a lot of insulin in an attempt to bring them down." I could not put oral liquids in my mouth – I felt incredibly sick and broke hot. helps insulin to get into the body a bit faster, I went to bed. Unusually, Miss Mia was already there – despite the fact that she and Honey (a rescued Jack Russell) have a fantastic private bed.
"I struggled en masse to fall asleep and was terribly restless, my blood sugars continued to rise, indicating that my body had stopped and the insulin was going in. Mia started to kick me, she smelled my breath – if the blood sugar level rises, there is a sour smell for your breath. "
Even though the charity worker felt too weak to move, her little dog was persistent, and all four of the legs in Bekki's back stopped and her pushed. She had to sit up to get the dog off her, and this warned her of the danger.
"When I went up, I almost collapsed on the ground," says Bekki. "And when I checked my blood sugars again, they went so high that the machine did not read them, I called my mother, who had to take me to A & E, where I was immediately taken in. How I was still aware, I was saved for three days before I was fired.
"There is no doubt that if Mia had not pushed me as she did, the outcome would have been very different." Both my & # 39; girls & # 39; are my world – I have a strong bond with them that is impossible to break. I've always had that extra sensitivity around Mia, because if I do not feel well, she picks it up faster. "